A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Diane Kruger, Benno Furmann, Guillaume Canet, Daniel Bruhl
Directed by: Christian Carion
Movie Released: 2005
If I said that there is nothing like a good war movie over the holidays, most would think I was nuttier than a festive fruitcake. But amidst all of the war films and all of the holiday films out there, there is one film that has found a way to beautifully splice together the two genres and make a truly wonderful film.
Joyeux Noel is a film that came out in 2005, and very few people probably know of its existence. It was gained its popularity as a Academy Award nominee for best foreign film. Now before you write it off because of its “non-American” roots, give me a chance to explain the plot. The plot follows 3 regiments of World War I soldiers, German, Scottish and French who declare a cease fire for Christmas eve. Because of that one night of peace, friendships were formed, and all the horrors of war were forgotten at least for one night.
What I love about this film is that it is in fact a true story. There are records of this type of fraternization going on during World War I. There are accounts of soldiers crossing the line into no man’s land, fraternizing with “the enemy” and sharing drinks and song. The director of Joyeux Noel took these accounts and made a film that he believes to fairly accurately depict what happened in those cold trenches back in 1914.
The film puts up some great acting by some unrecognizable talents in America. I particularly found the performance to be very strong by the Scottish Priest and the German Lieutenant, although the film has a lot of very moving performances. Perhaps one of the most moving parts of the film is Christmas mass in no man’s land. Closely following that scene may be the strong indoctrination scene with another priest before sending the new recruits into battle. Complete polar opposites of each other, it shows the peace and goodwill mankind can show, and the hate it can also unfortunately bear.
If you can find a copy of this film, put it on your list. It just may become a new holiday favorite of mine. It is a film that is wonderfully acted, and directed. Knowing that it is based upon true events just fills you with hope and the sort of joy that is meant for the Christmas season. Joyeux Noel, although unheard of by many, should become a film that you should watch and share with others this holiday season.